“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.” –Washington Irving
For Christmas, my daughter, Alecia gave me a Tear Bottle. Deeply touched by its beauty and symbolism, I was curious about the origin of this unique gift. I discovered that they were prevalent in ancient Egypt and Rome, where mourners would collect their tears and bury them with loved ones to show honor and devotion. They re-appeared during the 19th century Victorian era, when tears were collected in bottles with special stoppers. It was believed that once the tears evaporated, the mourning period could end.
As the final days of this year slip away, I think that the Tear Bottle is the perfect symbol for 2010. In an earlier blog, I deemed this the Year of Loss for our family. Losing our mother was devastating,and probably the worst of a year that will forever be remembered as one of the most difficult and challenging of our lives.
Loss has taken its toll. What we know now about the indignities of dying and the loneliness of grief has changed who we are; as individuals and as a family. At Easter, we gathered for the first holiday since our mother’s death. A family friend commented to my sister that she could hardly bear seeing the pain on all our faces. On Christmas Day, I saw that same pain on the face of my sister-in-law, Wendy. You see, she is reeling from the death of her father just three weeks ago….the waning year's final insult.
I long for some ritual to help me bid farewell to 2010; sending it off into oblivion with all the drama and emotion it deserves. Secretly, I still like to imagine that this year might have been just a bad dream.
In the incredible mind-bending film, Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio uses a spinning top to distinguish dreams from reality. For me, the Tear Bottle is my talisman. It commemorates the reality of this year’s journey, my dreams for what lies ahead, and all the tears that have been shed along the way.